HEARTS risk being frozen out of football if they take the FBCL to civil court.
Jambos president Ann Budge has doubled her threat of legal action against other clubs if, as expected, her plan to rebuild the league fails.
But that would be in direct violation of the AFE rules signed by Hearts – and it could even have their membership revoked.
Legal proceedings brought before the Swiss-based Sports Arbitration Tribunal are punishable under the Protocol of the Judicial College of the SFA.
Rule 1 states that possible sanctions include suspension or termination of SFA membership, fines of up to £ 1 million, a transfer ban and / or expulsion from the Scottish Cup.
These actions would be the maximum sentences that the Tynecastle club could receive if they decided to go to the courtroom.
The Rangers took the legal route in 2012 to challenge a transfer ban and FIFA has warned the SFA to take action against them.
The Gers first successfully challenged the ban before the Sessional Court, but was then forced to accept a signing embargo as a condition for obtaining membership in the SFA.
Although Hearts’ dispute is with the FBCL, the SFA is the governing body in Scotland and matters of conduct, discipline and the rules of the game are theirs. They grant teams their ability to compete.
Budge says relegation will see Hearts lose £ 3 million and has been urged by former President Leslie Deans to seek a ban to prevent the new season from starting.
Any delay in the new campaign could affect the new £ 160m Sky deal.
Jambos fan groups are ready to cover the likely cost of £ 500,000 to bring the FBCL to court.
But such a move will meet with a violent reaction from the FBCL and fellow presidents of Budge, who will then expect the SFA to intervene.
Pursuant to rule 5.1c of the SFA statutes, the clubs have agreed that “all members recognize and submit to the jurisdiction of the Sports Arbitration Tribunal as specified in the relevant provisions of the FIFA and UEFA statutes “
It is a direct link to world football rules, which strictly prohibit clubs from going to local courts to resolve football-related disputes.
FIFA’s own laws state that “associations must include a clause in their statutes that it is prohibited to bring disputes before the ordinary courts.
“These disputes will be brought before an independent arbitral tribunal recognized by the rules of the association or the confederation or the CAS.”
FIFA also specifies that it expects the governing bodies to “impose sanctions on any party that does not respect this”.
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Budge’s 14-14-14 reconstruction plan will be discussed on Monday by Premiership clubs and then by other leagues.
But it is unlikely to get enough support to save Hearts from relegation.
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